3d Lacrosse Names Connor Mooney Manager of 3d Tri-State
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Connor Mooney, a former standout lacrosse player at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been named the Manager of 3d Tri-State and will work out of the region’s Bridgeport offices.
Mooney was most recently the offensive coordinator at Western New England University, where he helped guide the Golden Bears to a 15-4 record – including wins over Stevenson, Amherst and Nazareth – and their third consecutive Commonwealth Coast Conference championship. In addition to directing the offense, Mooney was also a leader on the recruiting trail for the Golden Bears.
A four-year contributor at UMass, Mooney was twice named an All New England All Conference selection and, as a senior, earned USILA Scholar All-America honors as well as the Colonial Athletic Association’s Academic Achievement award.
Mooney has been immersed in lacrosse his entire life, having grown up the son of a lacrosse coach. The Wilbraham native played for his father, Russ, at Minnechaug Regional High School prior to attending Avon Old Farms.
Coach Mooney is currently pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at Western New England University.
3d Lacrosse caught up with him in Denver at the company’s annual offsite gathering for a Q&A session, which can be read below.
For more information on the 3d Tri-State programming and its offering of training opportunities, visit 3dLacrosse.com.
What has the game done for you and how do you try to give back?
I’ve been around the game of lacrosse my entire life, and I’ve always felt a strong connection with the game. My father was a high school coach growing up and I went to my first game at 11 days old. Basically I grew up with a stick. Having a catch with my Dad in the backyard are some of my favorite memories. As I grew older I’ve been blessed to learn the game from great people and coaches like Russ Mooney, Jim Warnock, John Klepacki, Matt Rowley, Skip Flanagan and Greg Cannella. I’ve always felt at home whenever I’m around the game and love being a part of a team bigger than your self. I’ve learned how to set goals for myself and developed an understanding of the process that it takes to accomplish those goals. Playing at UMass was a lifelong dream and as a Western Mass kid you always wanted to play on Garber Field. I was able to live out that dream, play for an amazing coach, meet some of my best friends and play at the level I always aspired to.
I try to give back to the game in the same way my coaches did with me. I consider myself extremely lucky to have grown up with coaches that taught me how to honor and respect the game in the right way. My goal as a coach is to bestow upon the younger generation of players to love the game and enjoy being at practice. Before 3d, I’ve run multiple youth camps in the Western Mass area trying to help teach the youth what I’ve learned as a player.
What is it that attracted you to 3d Lacrosse and eventually led you to joining our coaching team?
The first thing that attracted me to 3d was the 3d Methodology. You see other clubs or youth teams do the same monotonous drills at all age levels and 3d is looking outside the box to challenge players in different ways, where applicable. As a coach, it’s a ton of fun to teach challenging skills and the response from the players is excellent. I implemented some of the skills during my tenure coaching at WNE and the response and application from our players was fantastic.
The other component that attracted me was the level of coaching. 3d coaches have a ton of energy and that’s contagious throughout their program. They love the game of lacrosse, teach the right way to play and I wanted to be a part of that. Working in the Box-Field Hybrid Development System and the Methodology, I knew joining 3d would make me a better coach coming from a field-only background.
What strengths do you think you can bring to 3d Lacrosse as we try to help players improve their skill?
I’ve always considered myself a skill player. I was never the biggest or the fastest so I had to make up for that with stick skills and vision. My goal is to help players develop skills that are advantageous to them and give them the confidence to apply them. I’m a big believer in repetition, but in the right way. It’s all about getting players the right reps in difficult situations outside their comfort zone. I want players to always have a stick in their hands because I helped foster their love for the game.
How would you describe your approach to coaching?
I try to bring a fun yet demanding style of coaching. If players give me a strong effort I will reciprocate that through energetic coaching. I’ve always enjoyed challenging my players in a way to get them outside their comfort zone. Fundamentals and repetition has always been a cornerstone of my coaching style. Once a player is fundamentally sound then you can really challenge them and layer on more difficult skills to develop their repertoire. There’s no better feeling than seeing your players applying the skills that you try to teach them, and seeing them become more successful players because of it.
Who has been your biggest influence so far as it relates to your style of coaching?
My father has been my biggest influence in all aspects of how I approach the game. As a high school coach he always preached goal setting, teamwork and doing things the right way, which is something I’ve tried to instill in my players. The past two years at WNE, I was lucky enough to have my dad join our staff as a volunteer assistant. Honestly, it was one of the coolest experiences in my lacrosse career. We were able to work together and butt heads a little bit, but I learned a ton from him as to how to get the most out of your guys.
Greg Cannella has also had a strong influence on my coaching style. He taught me the importance of accountability and having an underdog mentality. Coach Cannella cares so much about his players that he is a “coach you want to play for.” I try to show that same belief in my players, that they find intrinsic motivation to get better.
How will your time as a Division I player impact you as a coach?
Playing Division I is a demanding four years, but at the same time the greatest four years of my life. Division I is a full-time commitment and the team is placed over the individual. That kind of selflessness is what I want to preach as a coach. You go through ups and downs with teammates you call brothers and you’ll sell out for one of them. That kind of commitment to something greater than yourself has impacted the way I have coached. Playing DI helps foster great time management skills. It’s important as a coach to emphasize the importance of balance with schoolwork, lacrosse, family and a social life.
What excites you about working in lacrosse back in the New England market?
I’ve always been a New England Lacrosse player/coach from youth in western mass, to Avon Old Farms, UMass, and WNE the past two years. I have a great sense of pride for New England lacrosse, where we aren’t considered a hotbed but I believe we produce some of the best college players out there. It’s always fun playing against the best from Long Island or Maryland and seeing where you are at with them. I’m excited to coach up kids that have the same dream that I did at their age and put them on a pass to live out those dreams.